Philosophy (PHIL) 367

Existentialism and Phenomenology (Revision 1)

PHIL 342

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: No pre-requisite; previous credit in Philosophy recommended.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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Philosophy 367 is designed to provide you with a background in two major schools of modern European philosophical thought. It is correspondingly divided into two: Part I on Existentialism and Part II on Phenomenology. As opposed to attempting to provide a survey of these two schools of thought in their entirety, which would have the unfortunate effect of glossing over important details in the philosophical arguments, this course introduces each school by way of one major thinker, then spending considerable time with texts by him. Hence the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche will be the avenue through which you will learn what Existentialism means, whereas the writings of Martin Heidegger will initiate you into Phenomenology. In short, aside from brief introductory units in each part, this course emphasizes depth over breadth. Rather than just learning about philosophy, the student will be immersed in the actual doing of philosophy. As will become apparent through your engagement with the material, this is the proper way to approach philosophy in general and these schools of philosophy in particular. This engagement will entail guided close readings of key primary texts, thoughtful interpretations of two or more selected films, and applications to experiences and situations from your life and the world you inhabit.


This course consists of ten units divided into two parts:

PART I: Nietzsche and Existentialism

  • Unit 1: The Historical Context of Existentialism and Phenomenology
  • Unit 2: Good, Evil, and Morality
  • Unit 3: Guilt and Punishment
  • Unit 4: The Ascetic Ideal and Western History
  • Unit 5: Nihilism, Affirmation, and the Eternal Recurrence
  • Unit 6: Jean-Paul Sartre, Freedom, and Atheistic Existentialism

PART II: Heidegger and Phenomenology

  • Unit 7: Existential Phenomenology and the Question of Being
  • Unit 8: Human Existence, Anxiety, and Death
  • Unit 9: Modern Technology
  • Unit 10: Earth and Sky, Gods and Mortals


Your final mark in Philosophy 367: Existentialism and Phenomenology will be based on your grades on the Study Questions in both parts of the course and the two essay assignments. To receive credit for this course, you must submit all written assignments and receive a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Please note that the assignment structure is set up in such a way that you must proceed sequentially through all the assignments, receiving instructor feedback on each one before proceeding to the next. This means that multiple assignments cannot be submitted at once or in a random order. If you register for this course, please take note of this assignment structure and plan your schedule accordingly.

Activity Weighting
Study Questions 20%
Essay Assignment 1 40%
Essay Assignment 2 40%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Martin Heidegger. Basic Writings. David Krell (ed.). Harper Perennial ,2008.

Emmanuel Levinas, "The Phenomenological Theory of Being," in The Levinas Reader, Seán Hand (ed.) Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989 (photocopy of chapter).

Alexander Nehamas. Nietzsche: Life as Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Friedrich Nietzsche. 'On the Genealogy of Morality' and Other Writings. Revised Student Edition. Keith Ansell Pearson (ed.) and Carol Diethe(trans.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, October 25, 2012